I’m winding down the first half of semester, and it’s so far been incredible.
I get to write weekly news stories, and learn how to be a journalist, videographer and photojournalist all at once.
This week I wrote a story my Bollywood dance group, Khottey Sikkey (unpolished silver), helped create. Bollywood star Salman Khan is coming to New Zealand next week, and KS performed a flash mob in Queen Street to promote the event.
The show is a spin-off from Khan’s film franchise Dabangg, and is called ‘Da-Bang: The Tour’.
It’s a huge deal for the Auckland Indian community, and Bollywood fans everywhere, as Khan is one of the highest grossing actors of all time.
What got me interested in the story, however, was seeing how Khan and his controversial past would be received by the Auckland Indian community.
He has been arrested and jailed for poaching, accused of stalking and had cases filed against him for illegal possession of arms.
His most famous altercation is being involved in a drunk-driving hit and run that killed a homeless man.
Although he was acquitted of most of these crimes, the ‘not guilty’ verdict on his manslaughter charge is currently being challenged by the Indian Supreme Court.
Asking the surrounding crowd what they thought of Khan’s presence in NZ, I found their answers unsurprisingly disappointing: People didn’t really care.
Fans were so happy that their ‘Sallu bhai” (Brother Salman) was coming, they completely bypassed his ‘faults’.
After all, as one anti-Salman bystander commented, people love to forgive celebrities.
Look at the backlash NZ Immigration got when Chris Brown was refused entry to the country.
Look at how people still call Caitlyn Jenner ‘a hero’, even after she hypocritically trampled on gay marriages and (like Sallu) caused an accident that killed someone.
Look, if anyone understands the fascination with celebrities, it’s me (*cough One Direction cough*).
But, I feel it’s important not to get swept up in their glamour and ignore the bad stuff.
Now we could say that poor Salman has just had a series of unfortunate events follow him. That his driver killed that homeless man, that forest rangers framed him (re. the) poaching), that Aishwarya Rai is delusional (re. the stalking) and so on and so forth.
Or, we could admit that he has done horrible shit (and that his movies in the past ten years have been awful. But, I digress).
I’ll still watch Hum Aapke Hai Kaun. And I’ll still feel sorry for Aman in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. But I won’t ignore the problem we’ve got with being celebrity-worshiping sheeple.
Maybe it’s a learning process. I know it is for me.
I hope Salman and co. have a nice stay in NZ. And, I hope the rest of us trade our rose-coloured glasses for sceptical spectacles.
At least now and then.